Ag Sect’y Redding: Education, School Curriculum Will Cultivate ‘Next Generation’ Of Farm Workers


MECANICSBURG, PA – As they seek to secure the next generation of farm workers, state officials are banking on school programs that put agriculture first for Pennsylvania students.

Speaking to reporters at Hill Top Academy, a K-12 school run by the Capital Area Intermediate Unit, on the outskirts of Harrisburg on Friday, Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding said his agency Farm to school program not only gives access to fresh, local produce, but also gives students access to ‘early agricultural education opportunities’, which include gardening options and local produce at lunch.

“The dollars we have invested in farm-to-school projects across the Commonwealth are a direct investment in the health and well-being of children and the safety of the agricultural workforce, and therefore of food, in the future, ”Redding said Friday.

The program, the agriculture ministry said, offers hands-on learning experiences and resources to schools and teachers for students in kindergarten through fifth grade, as reported in the 2019 Pennsylvania Farm Bill.

The funds granted by the department can be used by schools for:

  • Buy and market local agricultural products in school cafeterias;
  • Create and run agriculture and nutrition programs in schools;
  • Integrate agriculture and nutrition into the programs already present in schools;
  • Train educators to implement or integrate agriculture and nutrition programs into their teaching;
  • Implement experiential education opportunities in agriculture. such as field trips to the farm, service learning opportunities on farms (planting, weeding or harvesting) and school gardens.

Pennsylvania’s farm-to-school programs provide access to nearly one million Pennsylvania children [to] fresh and healthy products and simultaneously generate interest in agriculture, ”said Redding. “Letting students know where their food comes from is one of the most powerful tools we can offer young people today.

Redding said more than 200 schools have participated in farm-to-school grant programs in the past year.

“Schools see the value in connecting to farms,” Redding said.

With a $ 132 billion industry and more than 593,000 jobs at stake, the department has also hired Stephon Fitzpatrick, who has over 17 years of experience in the agricultural industry, to serve as executive director of the Pennsylvania Commission for Agriculture Education Excellence.

We cannot guarantee that a new generation takes on this responsibility without an active and engaged prosecution, ”Redding said of Fitzpatrick and the new role.

Fitzpatrick told reporters on Friday he planned to focus on creating a “seamless relationship” between the state’s agriculture industry and education.

“Agriculture is a people business,” said Fitzpatrick. “We need to ensure that awareness, financial support and knowledge in agricultural education is accessible to everyone, regardless of postcode, nationality, skin color, gender identity or gender. religion. “

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